Hengqin to introduce 72-hour visa-free transit for foreigners
Posted on June 17, 2015
A 72-hour visa-free transit and ‘offshore duty-free shopping policy’ is in the pipeline to be introduced by neighbouring Hengqin Island in Guangdong Province.
The Director of the Administrative Committee of Hengqin New Area, Niu Jing, told Business Daily that they have already applied to the central government to set up a Hengqin port visa office so that foreign visitors using Macau or Hong Kong International Airport can enter Hengqin without a visa on direct transit and may stay for up to 72 hours.
Lao Ngai Leong, a Macau deputy to the National People’s Congress, and local Customs post supervisor, believes that once such a policy is in place it would benefit Macau in attracting more international visitors as well.
“Macau is positioning itself as a world centre of tourism and leisure, aiming to diversify its tourist sources . . . [to attract] . . . more international visitors,” Mr. Lao told Business Daily. “Once the free visa to Hengqin has been launched it would be beneficial for Macau to promote ‘One trip, multiple stops’ for foreigners. The tourism resources of both regions can complement each other, enhance their influence, and enlarge the market.”
In order to facilitate international visitors’ short stay in China, the 72-Hour Visa Free Transit policy is being implemented in more and more cities. At present, 14 cities adopt this policy, according to online tour company TravelChinaGuide.
These cities are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, Xian, Guilin, Kunming, Wuhan, Xiamen, Tianjin and Hangzhou.
This policy enables transit passengers with passports from 51 countries to stay for up to 72 hours without a visa on direct transit. Qualified countries include the United States, Canada, Brazil, all Schengen agreement countries, and others.
The Hengqin official added that the island is trying to introduce duty-free arrangements for travellers. Niu Jing said they have already applied to the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Commerce, the General Administration of Customs, and State Administration of Taxation, and that the application is being processed.
Once the policy is put into practice, the duty-free shops would allow travellers that leave the island to purchase goods free of import and export duties in limited times, values, quantities and varieties.
Currently, the offshore duty-free policy is in place in Hainan Island in China, Matsu Island, Kinmen Island in Taiwan, Juju Island in South Korea and Okinawa Island in Japan, according to a recent report by Chinese media Southern Metropolis Daily.
The Henqing official believes that if the policy can be introduced in Hengqin, it would further help with the development of tourism as well as commerce and trade for the island.
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